If you identify with any of the scenarios above, try the expert tips below for reducing your alcohol consumption (or even eliminating it altogether).
1. Measure your drinks.
“The first step is to understand how much you’re actually drinking,” says Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of New Mexico and author of the 2019 study, “Advances in the Science and Treatment of Alcohol Use” in Science Advances.
A standard glass of wine is 5 ounces, which contains about 12% alcohol. A shot of distilled spirits like vodka is 1.5 ounces and equally 40% alcohol. One 12-ounce can of beer contains about 5% alcohol, and a standard glass of sherry is 3 to 4 ounces and contains about 17% alcohol, according to the NIAAA.
Use the NIAAA’s drink size calculator to determine the amount of alcohol in various drinks.
2. Track your intake.
“Once you have a sense of how much you’re drinking, it’s helpful to track how many drinks you’re having per day,” says Witkiewitz. “You could use a calendar, journal or any number of tracking apps.” Drink Control Alcohol Tracker or Less are two examples of free tracking apps available on iOS devices.
3. Make a plan.
People who set daily drink limits consume 10% fewer drinks each week than those who don’t, according to data from 10,000 U.S. users of the app Cutback Coach. And beginning the week well is an indicator of success: Members who stay under their planned limit on Monday and Tuesday are nearly four times more likely to reach their goal for the week.
“Start easy,” suggests Crews. Instead of aiming for complete abstinence, for instance, aim to drink fewer than seven days a week. “Try sober Mondays or sober Mondays through Wednesdays,” he says.
4. Tell family members and friends you want to get healthier.
Reframe drinking as you would any other health behavior you want to change, such as eating better or getting more exercise, and share it aloud with those closest to you. This social approach can help normalize the change you’re trying to make, says Witkiewitz. “You don’t have to have a problem with drinking to want to improve your health and quality of life by reducing your drinking.”
5. Try a month of abstinence.
“Try doing a ‘dry’ month like Dry January, Go Dry for July or Sober October,” says Moore. In January 2020, more than 6 million people reportedly participated in Dry January, a campaign to reduce alcohol consumption organized by Alcohol Change UK. Follow-up research suggested that most tended to drink in healthier amounts afterward.
6. Get exercise.
If you turn to alcohol to ease anxiety, try exercise as a healthy alternative. “For those who have access to and enjoy outdoor activities and other physical activity …….